Parents fighting a major shake-up of schools in the Ponteland Partnership demonstrated the weight of opposition at County Hall this morning.
The Facebook page, Parents of Ponteland Schools (POPS), was set up to oppose the closure of Ponteland Community Middle School as part of plans to move to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools, but aims to act as a forum for all concerned parents within the partnership.
Earlier today, more than 2,500 consultation response forms opposed to the switch to two-tier were handed in at Northumberland County Council’s headquarters in Morpeth, while there are also around 2,000 names on a petition against the changes.
One of the parents, Paula Cardno, who has children at first, middle and high school in the system, said: “We feel quite strongly that the system we have works. To change it is going to cause a lot of disruption to a lot of children when all that needs doing is improvements to some of the schools.
“We definitely feel that the three-tier system is better for the children, educationally as well as emotionally and socially.”
And despite the news last month that Ponteland Community Middle School received an academy order, which its headteacher Dr Caroline Pryer said could ‘secure the long-term future of the school’, the parents are continuing their fight.
Paula said: “Now we are in a situation where the council says it might run a two-tier system alongside the middle school. We want to have one system and put all the resources and efforts into that. A lot of us chose to live in the Ponteland area for the schools.”
A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “The six-week consultation closes tomorrow and we will be analysing the results and looking very closely at all of the feedback received before a report is considered by councillors. It is important to remember that this consultation was generated by the schools themselves, who all welcomed open discussions.
“We have followed the same open and transparent consultation process in Ponteland as in other areas of Northumberland, and actively encouraged all interested parties to have their say, including any proposals for other models
“The council remains neutral about whether education should be three-tier or two tier and our focus will be on what is best for all the children and families rather than any particular interest group.
“Before making any decision councillors will be looking very closely at the analysis and feedback and taking everyone’s views into account. It is expected that a report will be considered by council committees towards the end of May.”